Ricardo Cinalli was interviewed by Clarin about his Solo Show ‘A Ravishing Muse’ at jaggedart


Ricardo Cinalli was interviewed by Clarin about his Solo Show ‘A Ravishing Muse’ at jaggedart

By Maria Laura Avignolo

Provocative installation in London

Ricardo Cinalli -The Argentinian that exhibits fake Picassos

The artist, based in London since 1973, has “copied” fifteen works by the Spanish Master

Pablo Picasso’s line of works has succumbed to the unattainable. His works can only be seen and admired in museums or in ultra private collections; some are even permanently locked behind the doors of Geneva’s airport’s ‘free zone’, as an investment, reaching millions of pounds.

With a blend of humour, derision, utopia and admiration, Ricardo Cinalli, a prestigious London-based Argentinian artist, decided to transform the Spanish Master’s oeuvre into a provocative installation in jaggedart, a coquette gallery based in London’s Marylebone area and run by Argentinian gallerist Andrea Dickson.

‘Picasso by Cinalli’ is a compilation of fifteen works that reproduce – with the talent of a great draftsman – both portraits and frames that seem be by Picasso, but ultimately are not.

An exhibition that, at first triggers curiosity and astonishment, and subsequently, a smile. The exhibition at jaggedart, serendipitously coincides with an exhibition of Picasso’s genuine works at the National Portrait Gallery.

Cinalli’s house and art studio is equally unique, with a three-floor steep and narrow staircase covered by Cinalli’s distinctive frescoes –his artistic DNA. The house is in Spitalfields, London’s new artists’ hub. But when Cinalli arrived, the area was a dump.

Cinalli is a painter, a muralist who paints without any assistant, large frescoes using Renaissance techniques, depicting herculean figures and provocative contemporary subjects. He lives in London since 1973, and although he graduated in Psychology in Rosario, painting, art and music finally outweighed his career. He was raised in a little village in Santa Fe called Salto Grande, but it was in the UK where his artistic qualities developed, were defined and perfected: from the large frescoes commissioned by Alexandra Palace to bespoke murals for old British estates, the Argentine Embassy in London or the new Capella e Chiessa di Santa Maria della Misericordia, in Terni, Umbria.

Cinalli prefers to call his Picassos, a ‘one-off’ – they belong to an exhibition that he will never repeat again in his lifetime.

“What I wanted to do is to create an installation. I believe there are fifteen portraits, and their frames, which constitute the visual element of the installation. And I reiterate the notion of ‘installation’, because, if we would read them as pure copies of Picasso – something that I never intended – it is primordially a misleading interpretation of my work. What makes these works ultimately interesting, is the ability, the possibility, to make a Picasso to be indeed a Picasso, and not a copy. These works are not a copy. They have this quality that, if you look at these works and at a genuine Picasso, there is not so much difference. That’s the fascinating experience when entering this gallery.” explains Cinalli one day after the opening.

“The experience is to enter the gallery and wonder: ‘But how? Is it, or is it not?’ These are the questions that people ask themselves. The works are like a utopia, and that’s what I wanted to create, for various reasons. Firstly, this ‘utopia’ is based on an impossible. The whole show is impossibility. Why? Because the frames don’t correspond to the original works. These are relatively obscure paintings by Picasso.”

Do you need a specific technique to create a Picasso?
“Absolutely. First and foremost, to copy a Picasso you have to adore Picasso. To be rather obvious, I love Picasso. Why this adoration? Because I am not a colourist, I am, foremost, a draftsman. Picasso is not a colourist either, he is a draftsman. He fills the works with colour or with whatever he wishes; and with some luck he gets it right. But not necessarily he is a master in colours, but a spectacular draftsman and sketcher.

And the technique…
“It’s the technique that you have to really feel, a gut feeling from very deep inside. You have to feel a Picasso: it’s somewhat like Tango. If you don’t feel it in your guts, you will never excel in Tango. It’s a great analogy, as it is very visceral.”

And why was the frame important?
“I never spoke to Picasso. But what I can sense from his works is that he was both obsessed with his paintings but also with his frames. The frames are as important as the light for the painting. If you frame a work with the wrong frame, it will not work. These are all bespoke frames, made specially for each painting, and they are all painted and made by myself. “

What were your criteria when selecting Picasso’s works?
I forgot to tell you something very important about these ‘Picassos’. They actually have different sizes than the original ones. They vary either in format or in size. Because, if you would replicate the original even in the same size, that would be different and rather more serious. I don’t want to get into trouble.”

And for those people who will perceive them as a copy. What do you say?
On one hand it is a copy, but not on the other. It’s a very ambiguous situation. What I wanted to convey with this installation is not only the experience of looking at a painting, it’s the whole experience: How? Where did all these Picassos come from? Most of these works don’t even exist for the public eye, except for one that is more renowned. The rest are hidden in banks, in private security safes or in anonymous art collections. Because they are so valuable, they are kept very cautiously. You can’t just have a Picasso. All of these Picassos that I have reproduced are relatively unknown. They exist, they are in catalogues…but where are they?

There is another thing in these works… they are not signed by Cinalli, but by Picasso.
Exactly. If we are going to joke around, let’s do it fully. On the back of each work, it states ‘Picasso by Cinalli. We even wrote down the corresponding dates.


What are your next projects after these Picassos?
“There are several. I was very ill. After my illness, I said to myself: ‘Now I have to look at life differently, I should do what I relatively like.’ It’s what the doctors told me too, do what you want to do.”

The answer to health
I am not sure whether I am doing exactly what I want. But I really want to feel that I want to do what I want. I think I deserve it. I do not want to do anything I do not feel like doing. There are several exhibition projects. I just completed a really nice one in the Palais de Glace, in Buenos Aires. And now, there are two or three quite interesting proposals, in America and in Italy. When I finish this Picasso project, I’ll start working on new works again. I already have three or four works. I want to create a body of works and then decide where to showcase it. Then, there are a few proposals for frescoes. In 2014, I had to stop everything due to chemotherapy. The only thing I did during that year was a series of 49 pornographic or erotic works. Sandra Miller, an academic, tells me they are not pornographic, but ‘erotic’. And after that collection of 49 drawings - which are beautifully presented in a series of twelve cases - new ideas arouse. I am envisaging a series of enormous paintings, with a strong erotic or pornographic content. That’s the big next project. And I am waiting. I know that at any moment I will embark on these works, and I believe they will be fantastic. Perhaps, it might be the most beautiful work I have ever done.

You sell at Christies, you are working on huge erotic art projects, and your work is displayed in museums and chapels. Your murals are set in embassies and private houses. But do you miss Argentina, the connection to the arts, the roots. Is Argentina, energy for you?

Yes, it is. But I was lucky and there were times I travelled three times a year to Argentina. Going to Argentina was, since I moved to the UK, my way of recharging batteries. And here in the UK, my batteries get consumed again. I like to think that this is a good way of connecting to my past, to my life. Finally, I have lived more here in the UK than in Argentina. And I am glad, that I never felt, not for a single moment, that I wasn’t Argentinian any more, or that I lost that link. Quite the opposite, I always need to go back.”